Dr. Marvin Dewar learned some of his most important life lessons inside a Winnie the Pooh costume.
Today, Dewar is a senior associate dean at the University of Florida and the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer for UF Health Physicians. But in 1971, when Walt Disney World had just opened, Dewar was Winnie the Pooh at the Magic Kingdom. For six years, he had the privilege of wandering around Disney after hours, exploring the staff-only tunnels beneath the park and bringing smiles to people who lined up to meet Pooh. He was even part of the opening-day parade.
Looking back on his time as Pooh, however, is more than nostalgia. Dewar says he draws on his experiences at Disney every day.
“What I learned from Disney that helped me in my medical career is that it really is about others,” he says. “There are certainly times when you’re having a bad day, but at Disney, the attendee should never know that. In our delivery of health care, our patient should never know if we’re having a bad day. All they should see is our total attention to them and to making their experience as good as it could be.”
Dewar started working at the park in tenth grade and kept it up during summer and holiday breaks through his first year of medical school. The gig even paid for his wife’s engagement ring.
“It was such a blessing to have the opportunity to be Pooh,” he says. “The only bad part was how hot it was inside those costumes.”
Given the chance, would the self-professed “Disney addict” get back into the Pooh suit for a day?
“In a millisecond,” he says.